Study shows social media echo chambers might actually be a good thing

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A group of researchers, as part of a social experiment, paid liberals and conservatives on Twitter to follow a bot for a month that tweeted political views from the other side. Shockingly, rather than softening their own views or learning to understand the opposition, most participants dug in deeper. We’re not partisan out of ignorance, it seems, but because we fundamentally disagree. Social media echo chambers take a lot of grief. There’s a popular perception that people get stuck inside their own biased worlds and become oblivious to the ‘reality’ the opposing side understands. But perhaps they’re actually doing us…

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Study: Most YouTube influencers still don’t disclose sponsored deals

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It's been almost a year since the FTC warned social media influencers that they should "clearly and conspicuously [disclose]" if they're being paid for a post or video. But according to a new Princeton University research, most YouTube and Pinterest…
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Gun deaths could become easier to study thanks to the new spending bill

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now have the government’s permission to resume gun violence research, in writing: the massive omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump signed today clarifies that a 22-year-old ban on using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control doesn’t actually ban research.

While the bill is a step in the right direction, researchers will only believe that the landscape of gun violence research is actually changing when they see money for it in the CDC’s budget. “It’s not bad news — it’s good news,” says Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “But I’m skeptical that it’s going to really turn things around without some money being made…

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Apple Watch more effective at detecting heart condition than KardiaBand accessory, study finds

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A continuing study into the medical potential of consumer wearables has confirmed devices like Apple Watch are sensitive enough to detect abnormal heart rhythms with a 97 percent accuracy, a performance that beats out add-on ECG accessory KardiaBand.
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New Study Confirms Apple Watch Detects AFib with 97% Accuracy

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Newly published research suggests that the Apple Watch’s built-in suite of sensors can detect abnormal heart rhythms with 97 percent accuracy. The results of the study, which was a joint venture between researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the team behind heart monitoring app Cardiogram, were published in JAMA Cardiology on Wednesday. […]
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Study reveals Reddit isn’t as big a cesspool as you thought. But it’s still a cesspool.

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A recent study by Stanford University revealed the vast majority of Reddit’s conflicts originate in just one percent of its communities. Subreddits, as they’re known on the site, are category-specific groups that steer the conversation around a central topic or theme. And most are relatively tame. These are the groups responsible for thoughtful discourse and mostly respectful debate, the behavior that keeps most users engaged and active on the site. Others, however, are easily some of the most toxic corners of the web, online cesspools that serve as a watering hole for the modern criminals, racists, and conspiracy theorists hell-bent…

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Study: T-Mobile, Verizon Tied for Best Wireless Network in the U.S.

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When it comes to the cellular industry in the U.S., there’s been a sea change over the last decade. And it’s definitely shifted the balance among the Big 4 telecom firms. AT&T and Verizon have long operated the two largest networks with the best overall coverage and the largest subscriber base. It appears that is […]
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Study Suggests AliveCor KardiaBand for Apple Watch Can Be Used With AI Algorithm to Detect High Potassium

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AliveCor, the company that makes an FDA-approved EKG band for the Apple Watch called KardiaBand, teamed up with the Mayo Clinic for a new study that suggests an AliveCor EKG device paired with artificial intelligence technology can non-invasively detect high levels of potassium in the blood.

A second study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic also confirms the KardiaBand’s ability to accurately detect atrial fibrillation.

AliveCor’s KardiaBand

For the potassium study, AliveCor used more than 2 million EKGs from the Mayo Clinic from 1994 to 2017 paired with four million serum potassium values and data from an AliveCor smartphone EKG device to create an algorithm that can successfully detect hyperkalemia, aka high potassium, with a sensitivity range between 91 and 94 percent.

High potassium in the blood is a sign of several concerning health conditions, like congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes, and it can also be detected due to the medications used to treat these conditions. According to AliveCor, hyperkalemia is associated with “significant mortality and arrhythmic risk,” but because it’s typically asymptomatic, it often goes undetected.

Currently, the only way to test for high potassium levels is through a blood test, which AliveCor is aiming to change with the new non-invasive monitoring functionality.

AliveCor says that the AI technology used in the study could be commercialized through the KardiaBand for Apple Watch to allow patients to better monitor their health. Vic Gundotra, AliveCor CEO, said that the company is “on the path to change the way hyperkalemia can be detected” using products like the Apple Watch.

For the Cleveland Clinic study, cardiologists aimed to determine whether KardiaBand for Apple Watch could differentiate between atrial fibrillation and a normal heart rhythm. The researchers discovered that the KardiaBand was able to successfully detect Afib at an accuracy level comparable to physicians interpreting the same EKGs. The Kardia algorithm was able to correctly interpret atrial fibrillation with 93 percent sensitivity and 94 percent specificity. Sensitivity increased to 99 percent with a physician review of the KardiaBand recordings.

KardiaBand, which has been available since late last year, is available for purchase from AliveCor or from Amazon.com for $199. Using the KardiaBand also requires a subscription to the AliveCor premium service, priced at $99 per year.

AliveCor premium paired with the KardiaBand offers SmartRhythm notifications, unlimited EKG readings, detection of atrial fibrillation or normal sinus rhythm, and unlimited cloud history and reporting of all EKGs.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
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Massive Study of Fake News May Reveal Why It Spreads So Easily

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Fake News

The problem of so-called fake news is well known, yet we seem no closer to solving it. Social media is a major source of these falsehoods. Twitter, in particular, is responsible for much of their spread, so it doesn’t help that the platform’s executives recently dropped the ball, so to speak, on the whole issue.

Now, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are taking a look at the issue in one of the largest studies to date. Their findings suggest that humans – not bots – are largely to blame.

For their study, appearing in the March 2018 issue of the journal Science, the MIT team attempted to make sense of how and why fake news and misinformation spreads fast via Twitter. Specifically, they investigated how mechanisms in Twitter, coupled with peculiarities in human behavior on social media, make it easy for fake news to spread.

Fighting Fake News: Can Technology Stem the Tide?
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For their study, the team looked at a sample of some 126,000 bits of “news” tweeted by 3 million people more than 4.5 million times between 2006 and 2017.

“We define news as any story or claim with an assertion in it and a rumor as the social phenomena of a news story or claim spreading or diffusing through the Twitter network,” they wrote in the study. “That is, rumors are inherently social and involve the sharing of claims between people. News, on the other hand, is an assertion with claims, whether it is shared or not.”

Next, the researchers separated the news into two categories: false and true. To do this, they used six independent fact-checking organizations whose classifications showed a strong agreement.

Spreading Like Wildfire

After that, they examined how likely a piece of news was to create a “cascade” of retweets on the social networking platform.

Surprisingly, news categorized as false or fake was 70 percent more likely than true news to receive a retweet. “Political” fake news spread three times faster than other kinds, and the top 1 percent of retweeted fake news regularly diffused to at least 1,000 people and sometimes as many as 100,000.

True news, on the other hand, hardly ever reached more than 1,000 people.

The researchers also found a connection between the “novelty” of a bit of news and the likelihood that a Twitter user retweeted it.

In a study of 5,000 users, they looked at a random sample of tweets each user may have seen in the 60 days prior to retweeting a rumor. According to their analysis, false news was more novel than true news, and users were far more likely to retweet a tweet that was “measurably more novel.”

The emotional response a tweet generated also played a role in user engagement. Fake news generated replies showing fear, disgust, and surprise. True news inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. These emotions could play a role in a person’s decision to retweet a piece of news.

This spreading of misinformation isn’t due to bots, either – Vosoughi and his team used an algorithm to remove all the bots before conducting their analysis. When they factored the bots into the study, the researchers found that the bots didn’t distinguish between fake news and the truth.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it,” they wrote in the study.

Just the Beginning

The MIT study isn’t the only fake news-related piece in the March 2018 issue of Science. It also includes a separate Policy Forum article co-authored by Filippo Menczer, a professor in the Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

In that article, Menczer and a number of other researchers, scholars, and scientists call for more large-scale scientific investigations into fake news, like this new study from MIT.

“What we want to convey most is that fake news is a real problem, it’s a tough problem, and it’s a problem that requires serious research to solve,” said Menczer in a press release.

While the political repercussions of fake news are quite obvious, the phenomenon has affected various other discussions. As Menczer and his colleagues point out in their commentary, topics of concern to the public, such as vaccinations and nutrition, are susceptible to fake news, too.

“The challenge is there are so many vulnerabilities we don’t yet understand and so many different pieces that can break or be gamed or manipulated when it comes to fake news,” Menczer said in the press release. “It’s such a complex problem that it must be attacked from every angle.”

A good place to start that attack is with more studies like the one out of MIT.

The post Massive Study of Fake News May Reveal Why It Spreads So Easily appeared first on Futurism.

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Study finds that people are more loyal to Android than iOS

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A new study done by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) says that Android users have higher brand loyalty than iOS users, as reported by TechCrunch. The report says that not only has Android loyalty been rising since early 2016, but it’s currently the highest it’s ever been.

To measure current loyalty to each platform, the study looked at the percentage of US customers who stayed with their operating system after upgrading their phones in 2017. Ninety-one percent stayed with Android, while 86 percent stayed with iOS. Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP, tells TechCrunch that “With only two mobile operating systems at this point, it appears users now pick one, learn it, invest in apps and storage, and stick with it.”

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